The 2021 crop yield potential remains highly variable

Most crop experts agree that corn and soybean yields in 2021 are likely to be very variable and very difficult to predict, especially in drought-affected areas of Minnesota, western Iowa, Dakota. from North and South Dakota.

Recent precipitation, along with a few severe generalized storms, could certainly change the crop forecast in some areas. Most of the harvest information in yield estimates released by the US Department of Agriculture and private companies was based on harvest conditions from early to mid-August, so any major changes in conditions after this period could affect future performance projections.

Fairly extensive and heavy rains were received in many parts of the Upper Midwest during the last 10 days of August, including some of the extremely dry areas of southwestern and midwestern Minnesota, northeastern western Iowa and eastern South Dakota.

Other areas of North Dakota, Montana, western and central South Dakota, and northwest and north-central Minnesota received less precipitation. Crop stress continues to worsen.

Most of the eastern Corn Belt had adequate humidity, so the additional precipitation had very little impact.

In some of the places under severe water stress, recent rainfall may have been too late to have a significant impact on the 2021 corn and soybean crop; however, in areas with more moderate impacts of drought conditions, there will likely still be benefits from rainfall.

If the corn and soybeans had not reached maturity and were still in viable conditions, the improved conditions should help stabilize or even increase the potential for final yield. The final impacts of the rains in late August are unlikely to be known until harvest.

The extension of the drought zone in late July and early August dampened hopes of record yields in many of the major corn and soybean growing regions of the United States.

Most experts, as well as the USDA, expect the final yield of corn in the United States in 2021 to exceed the final yield of 2020, but move away from a record yield. The final soybean yield in the United States in 2021 is expected to approach the 2020 yield.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Crop Report released by the USDA on August 12 estimated the average corn yield at 174.6 bushels per acre, compared with a final U.S. average yield of 172 bushels per acre. Last year. The USDA projected the 2021 average soybean yield at 50 bushels per acre on August 12, compared to a final U.S. soybean yield of 50.2 bushels per acre in 2020.

Several severe storms accompanied by strong winds and large hail occurred from August 24 to 28 over a large area of ​​southern and western Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and Nebraska, Iowa and from northern Illinois.

Cumulatively, these storms damaged hundreds of thousands of acres of crops in the Upper Midwest and caused property damage to farm sites. The storms were not as severe or widespread as the echo storm that hit central Iowa and surrounding states in mid-August 2020; however, damage to corn crops from this year’s storms was quite similar. Thousands of acres of corn in parts of the Upper Midwest have either been laid flat or pulled out from under the cob.

If the corn stalks have been torn from under the cob by strong winds, there is not much recourse for growers. It would be very difficult to pick these ears from the ground to harvest them. There may be a way to salvage some of the damaged maize for fodder to be fed to the livestock, or to fence the area and graze the livestock.

If the corn has been laid flat and the stalk has not been cut, the corn plant should continue to absorb nutrients and the corn should mature. Harvesting the corn will be very difficult and may require combining the corn very slowly in one direction. Harvesting corn may also require the addition of special attachments to the corn head used for harvesting.

This can add more time and money to the harvesting process and having to bring the head of corn very close to the ground for harvesting can also result in more damage to the equipment. Wind damaged soybeans can also be twisted and mutilated; however, the soybean crop should be a bit more manageable than the corn crop due to severe wind damage.

Whether corn, soybeans or other crops have been damaged by wind, hail or drought, it is important for farmers to contact their crop insurance agent before harvesting the crop or before saving the crop. harvest for fodder for livestock. Crop insurance experts will perform a preliminary crop loss assessment, but may not be able to finalize the crop loss before harvest is complete.

Some crop growers also have special wind or hail insurance on their crops and again need to contact their insurance agent before starting to harvest or collect the crop. At this point, no federal disaster assistance program has been announced for the 2021 crop losses due to drought or severe storms. The Wildfire, Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP +) covered part of the crop losses due to late planting, heavy rains and other natural disasters for the 2018 and 2019 crop years.

Normally, one of the biggest challenges with harvesting corn in Minnesota and other northern Corn Belt states is usually getting the crop to ripen before the first killing frost. Average first frost dates range from around September 20 in northern parts of the region to around October 10 to 15 in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

The good news is that crop development in most parts of the region is much more advanced in 2021, compared to a normal year. Since May 1, the accumulation of degree of growth units (GDU) has been 8-10% or more above normal in most places, which, combined with the very dry weather conditions at the start August in many areas significantly improved late season harvests. development.

Corn is considered safe from lethal frost once it reaches physiological maturity, that is, when the corn kernel reaches the “black layer” stage. Much of the 2021 corn crop will likely reach this stage by mid-September, which should significantly reduce any fears of an early frost this year.

When corn reaches the “black layer” it is still typically at a kernel moisture of 28-32%. Ideally, corn should be at 15-16% kernel moisture for safe storage in a grain bin until spring or next summer. Once corn matures, favorable weather in early fall can greatly aid in the natural drying of corn in the field, which can reduce corn drying costs and improve corn quality. It is likely that a high percentage of the 2021 corn crop will be stored in the farm’s grain storage until spring and summer 2022.

According to the USDA Crop Progress Report of August 30, 60% of the US corn crop was graded “good to excellent,” which is the same as a week earlier. The 2021 corn scores compare to a “good to excellent” harvest rating of 62% at the end of August a year ago. The highest statewide “good to excellent” ratings were Wisconsin at 78%, Illinois at 70%, Indiana at 69%, and Ohio and Nebraska at 67%.

The lowest “good to excellent” corn scores were recorded in North Dakota at 16%, South Dakota at 23% and Minnesota at 36%. Iowa was 58% in the top category. Nationally, 14% of the corn crop was classified as “poor to very poor,” including 47% in North Dakota, 45% in South Dakota and 27% in Minnesota.

The combined corn acreage of North Dakota and South Dakota is only exceeded by the total corn acreage statewide of Iowa and Illinois.

USDA’s August 30 Weekly Crop Assessments indicated that 56% of the US soybean crop was “good to excellent,” which was the same as the August 23 weekly report. A year ago, 66% of the US soybean crop was graded “good to excellent” at the end of August.

Once again, the Eastern Corn Belt leads in soybean acreage percentage in the top grades with Illinois at 71%, Ohio at 68% and Indiana at 66%. Other states with a high percentage of soy in the “good to excellent” category included Wisconsin at 75%, Nebraska at 69%, and Iowa at 60%.

The lowest “good to excellent” ratings were North Dakota at 15%, South Dakota at 22% and Minnesota at 31%. Nationally, 15% of the soybean crop was classified as “poor to very poor,” including 45% in North Dakota, 42% in South Dakota and 27% in Minnesota. North Dakota ranks fourth in the United States for soybean acreage in 2021.

For more information, contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and Senior Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, Minnesota, at (507) 381-7960 or [email protected], or visit www.minnstarbank. com.

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